He may have left Camp Nou for Paris but Lionel Messi will continue to be a financial burden for cash-strapped Barcelona for a while yet.
As revealed by Catalan daily Sport, Barça still owe their former captain €52 million in unpaid wages. This figure corresponds to a deferred salary payment that Barcelona players agreed to during the tenure of former president Josep Bartomeu at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The club is currently negotiating with Messi’s lawyers regarding the payment, with Barça set to settle the debt in installments throughout 2021 and 2022. In addition, Sport points out that this payment does not correspond to a supposed loyalty bonus for the player. The deferred salary payment agreement, which was put in place as a means to help Barcelona deal with the financial impact of the pandemic, was signed by some of the higher-paid members of the squad, who agreed to lower their salary on the promise they would be repaid lost money over the coming years. While the agreement was put in place by the disgraced former president Bartomeu, it is now the job of his successor, Joan Laporta, to resolve the issue of deferred payments promised to players. Barcelona’s enormous financial struggles are no secret and were the reason the club was not able to hold onto Messi, who joined Paris Saint Germain as a free agent after his Camp Nou contract expired at the end of June. Before his departure, Bartomeu had publicly announced that the club’s total debt amounted to €250 million. However, after an audit following his exit, Laporta stated that the actual figure was close to €487, almost double that reported by his predecessor.